Automotive engineering

Automotive Engineering Course at Te Reo Māori: A New Zealand First

The Ara Institute in Canterbury will provide all learning materials and assessments for a trades course in te reo Māori, a first for a non-Māori higher education institution. To enable fluent speakers of the Maori language to learn and be assessed in their native language, Ara is currently translating workbooks, marking guides and assessments for its Level 3 Automotive Engineering course, ready to be delivered in early 2023.

Julie McIlwraith, Academic Quality Assurance Manager for Ara Trades, says the initiative began when a student who had been educated in Kura Kaupapa Maori schools expressed concerns about English assessments as part of automotive training course.

“Not only was the learner’s first language an official language, but Ara has a policy that she should consider opportunities for assessment of learners in Māori if a competent translator and assessor can be found. Ara has several speakers of te reo skilled, so when learners like this come with a variety of abilities, we need to be able to meet them where they are.”

The automotive engineering student would eventually like to start his own auto repair business that uses te reo Māori as its primary language so that people who have passed through kura kaupapa Māori have a culturally appropriate place to get their cars repaired, McIlwraith says.

How to handle the translation of automotive terms like “carburetor” and “camshaft” was a big decision for Ara and part of the project’s kaupapa. Reimana Tūtengaehe, the Ara tutor responsible for translations, explains that so many terms do not currently exist in te reo Māori, so they had to consider whether to use transliterations, such as ‘kāpareta’ for ‘carburetor’, or create their own terms and submit them to Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo – the Maori Language Commission, or just use the English terms.

In the end, they decided to use the English terms for any object or activity that does not yet exist in the Maori language. Tūtengaehe noted, “It is the best choice given the lack of proper vocabulary in the language and will provide a gradual growth rate for the language and the speakers.”

McIlwraith says that’s a key perspective for the entire project. “Because we accept that currently all of our learners will find themselves in workplaces that use technical English terms, we need to ensure that any anticipated barriers to employment are minimized. To do this effectively, enable learners Getting familiar with the terms as used in today’s workplace is essential. We look forward to the time when this won’t even need to be considered anymore,” she says.

Translations are a “massive undertaking” for Tūtengaehe, but he says he looks forward to more courses being translated for students across the country.

“For me, this is a good first step towards providing Maori speakers with an environment that allows them to know that their language is not foreign to this land and should not be foreign to the disciplines in which they wish to learn. Over time, we can help create a population that could even return to our institutions and further develop these programs to the point where not only resources could be provided in te reo, but full course delivery could also take place in te reo,” he said.

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